Book review: Oskar and the Eight Blessings, by Richard and T.R. Simon, illustrations by Mark Siegel

Simon, Richard and T.R. Simon. Illustrations by Mark Siegel. Oskar and the Eight Blessings. Roaring Brook Press, 2015. $17.99. ISBN 9781596439498. Unp. Ages 3-8. P7Q8

simon-oskar-and-the-eight-blessingsOskar is a lucky little boy. Following Kristallnacht, his parents manage to send him alone on a ship to America where he is to find his aunt. Raised to concentrate on the blessings in life, Oskar makes his way through Manhattan on Christmas Eve to find his Aunt’s house on the Upper East Side. During his journey, he has eight encounters that prove to be blessings. In the authors’ note, they explain the historical, political, and cultural significance of the blessings as well as the personal events that lead to the creation of Oskar and the Eight Blessings. The illustrations are painted on canvas and arranged in a narrative way similar to a graphic novel. Oskar is a Holiday tale that reminds readers to choose a different perspective. If a young, Jewish refugee can find the good in people in the late 1930s, it should be easy for us to do the same. In addition to this lesson, the story is a successful primer to a discussion about the Holocaust and World War II for unfamiliar readers.

September 2016 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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